Review: Datsik goes hardstyle for a headbanging crowd at The Ritz in Ybor City

Break your f***in' neck, b****!

Aren’t ninjas supposed to be stealthy?

Well apparently no one told Troy Beetles, who brought his sensory bombarding Ninja Nation tour to Tampa Friday night under his headlining moniker Datsik.

While Canadian himself, Datsik became enamored with the ninja theme in 2016 while doodling on a napkin, shortly after wrapping up the release of his ninja inspired EP, Sensei.

This bubble of creativity would go on to spawn several ninja themed, bass enthused “Ninja Nation” bus tours, with the current installment boasting a treasure trove of “audio assassins” in Space Jesus and Riot Ten as openers.

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The show had amassed quite a bit of hype since its mid-November announcement, and if his set at 2017s Imagine Music Festival was any indication, it was certainly one we didn’t want to miss. It was an added bonus when it was noted that it was a performance further boosted by his Shogun Stage production and Shaolin Bass, a speaker system rigged by PK sound.

The night also featured a third listed opener in Wooli, a fellow bass buff who is listed as a native of Upstate, Antarctica, at least according to his Facebook page.

For those who attempted to wait out the cold —which surprisingly remained in the 50s for most of the night— and arrived post-Wooli, their entrance was most likely soundtracked by some heavier headbanging as Riot Ten was finishing up his respective opening role.

His track “Railbreak,” which has become a hardstyle anthem at many festivals and clubs, had the sold-out Ybor crowd on edge, with many from the pit up to the balcony “head banging” while screaming its profanity-laced chorus, which I can’t type but you can figure out here.

While Riot Ten served as a fun appetizer for the evening, it was producer Jasha Tull, better known as his provocative DJ label Space Jesus, that moved a bulk of the tickets for Friday night’s show.

Possibly due to recent high profile Florida festival stops at Suwannee Hulaween and Okeechobee Music Festival, many on social media and in the crowd were buzzing for the futuristic feels and other-wordly bass lines that the have become the norm for the Brooklyn-based producer.

His arrival on stage however, seemed a bit puzzling, at least at first.

While the star power of the Ninja Nation tour, which additionally features Funtcase on other tour stops, was astounding enough to warrant a sell-out like Friday’s, it was the promotion of the advanced sound and light production that added a dazzling appeal.

This special production however, appeared reserved for the headliner, as Space Jesus was resigned to a makeshift stage set up in front of the curtained Shogun stage.

The beginning of Space Jesus’ set highlighted this difference in production, as he opened with overhead house lights on the crowd, which masked the long-haired, towering figure in shadows as he introduced his mind bending production into the Ritz’ amphitheatre.

Whereas the opening to his set was a lo-fi emphasis on the sound, he returned to his bread and butter in the latter half of the set in blending the clunky, spacy beats with psychedelic visuals resonating from the LED boards both below and behind him.

Space Jesus’ set came to a close around 1 a.m., where stagehands wasted little to no time clearing the way for the nights headliner and the unveiling of the stage—and man was it worth the wait.

The stage itself featured a 40-foot wide shinto-inspired backing, reminiscent of a dojo temple with 200 LED panels working as an enrapturing facade done in the style of japanese shōji walls.

At roughly 1:15 a.m., Datsik came to the stage, donning an LED, ninja inspired outfit himself— a beaming triangle hat and metallic face mask created by the guys at Ironhead Studios, who interestingly enough also created the outfits French DJs Daft Punk wore in the movie Tron.

Aside from a few ninja-inspired narrations on the loud speakers, Datsik quickly went to work in showcasing himself as one of the top hardstyle touring DJs in EDM today.

With an immersive sound system and visuals pulsating from Shinto shrine behind him, Datsik laid out some of his hardest beats for the Tampa EDM crowd.

It was especially cool to see a DJ so engaged with fans. Datsik spent a good portion of the night interacting with fans near the rail and even bringing some on stage to join him behind the boards.

While the show seemed to be wrapped up well before the 3 a.m. curfew, Datsik would be lured back several times for “one more song” enduced encores, tying a bow on a rowdy Friday night at the Ritz Ybor.

Still feeling the urge to headbang?

Head right back to the Ritz next Friday, who hosts the Diplo and Friends endorsed duo of Boombox Cartel. For more info and ticketing information on that show, click here.

About The Author

LJ Hilberath

Franz “LJ” Hilberath is a Clearwater-native who contributes to Creative Loafing's Music section. He previously served as an intern and is now a freelance contributor for all things music.LJ can be found in the field reviewing concerts and music festivals around the country, and also works interviews for both local...
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